ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions took a tight end in the top 10 for the second time in six years, using the No. 8 overall pick to select T.J. Hockenson of Iowa on Thursday night in the NFL draft.
Hockenson is the highest-selected tight end since Vernon Davis went No. 6 overall to the San Francisco 49ers in 2006.
Hockenson, who won the John Mackey Award last season as the nation’s top tight end, was the first non-quarterback offensive player taken Thursday. He was a first- or second-team All-American by almost every major outlet and led Iowa in receiving last season with 760 yards while catching six touchdowns.
Hockenson caught 74 percent of his targets last season, third-best among tight ends (minimum 40 targets), and averaged 11.5 yards per target.
The last time a tight end went in the top 10 was 2014, when the Lions took Eric Ebron with the No. 10 overall pick. Ebron lasted four years in Detroit and was a divisive player for much of his time with the Lions because of the players who went after him in the draft, including Odell Beckham Jr., Taylor Lewan and Aaron Donald.
He joins a position group with recent free-agent signings Jesse James and Logan Thomas along with incumbent Michael Roberts. Detroit’s top two tight ends last season, Levine Toilolo and Luke Willson, are both no longer with the club.